Korean Pork Belly Rhapsody is a new 2-part documentary series on Netflix examining the cultural and societal impact of – yep you guess it – pork belly. Although the documentary does tend to jump between different topics at a pretty rapid pace, anyone with a love for Korean food should be right at home here.
With each episode clocking in at around 45 minutes or so, Paik Jong-Won narrates and guides viewers through the history of pork belly and its cultural impact on this amazing Asian country. From the tableside hotplates it’s cooked on to the specific breeds of pig used to heighten flavour, Pork Belly Rhapsody serves as an ode to this staple in Korean cuisine.
It’s hard to explain quite how tasty this is without actually trying it yourself – especially in its ssam format. For those unaware, pork belly is usually sizzled at Korean restaurants on a hot plate – either at your table or nearby – before being served to you hot. It’s mixed with spring onions, soy sauce and wrapped in a special lettuce leaf. Then, you’re supposed to roll everything up and stuff it in your mouth. The burst of flavour is unrivaled – and even more so if you opt for the spicy variant of pork.
Here, Pork Belly Rhapsody tries to emulate this feeling with a couple of Americans tasting pork belly for the first time but understandably it doesn’t convey that well to the small screen. What Rhapsody does do well however, is pepper in a number of intriguing facts around Korean food and its history of importing pork belly to use from “football loving” countries.
No part of a pig is wasted here, as handy line graphs show just how popular pork belly became back in the 70’s and 80’s. Now, it’s found in a number of different restaurants which we catch a glimpse of across the run-time of this season.
Food is a big part of Korean culture and Pork Belly Rhapsody is a pretty good documentary series that attempts to showcase this in all its glory. While it is a little sporadic at times, jumping between different outlets and ideas rapidly, as an introductory guide to Asian cuisine and pork belly in particular – Korean Pork Belly Rhapsody is a decent documentary series worth checking out.
Verdict - 7/10